The lost art of wasting time

In a vain attempt to find a suitable and all too often elusive date for the girls’ book club, (yes. Book Club. Let it go. ) there was a moment of slight hesitation before clicking that send button. Did I really want to go there? Hmmm… An hour later, eyeballing my inbox heaving with a 20 message-strong thread of emails I knew then and there I had embarked upon a task of utter frustration and sheer futility. This was gonna be painful. Wednesday worked for some, but another was travelling. No, no not the 20th, out with clients, another, dinner party got there first. What about tuesday? (TUESDAY?!) Saturday? Saturday is just a no-go. (When did weekends become so untouchable?? Ah right, kids. Them again.) You get the picture. I could almost feel myself shrink from my Outlook with every declaration of others’ far more worthy pursuits. Tempted to throw out some more dates 30th? 31st? 4th? 5th? 6th? I stopped myself in a choreographed effort to curtail my availability, not wanting to be the saddo with too much time on her hands. (And turns out I DID have plans for the 6th. Phew.)

But I wondered, when did we become too busy to be be, you know… busy??

In this era of have-it-all alpha women who pride themselves on overachieving– five kids, Fortune 500 CEO, PhD thesis in the works on Keynesian vs. Classical theories in emerging economies whilst founding a Nepalise-cashmere sock company from her trophy-home basement extension and who’s perfected the delicate art of the humble brag– it’s no wonder us mere mortals are likewise keen to flash persistently-packed diaries like a badge of honour. We’ve elevated our natural penchant for multi-tasking and instead become competitive-taskers, apologising for our free time. We frame every leisurely activity with a thinly-veiled qualifier, gym session ‘squeezed’ into our only free hour, mani-pedi ‘first one in a year!’ and that overpriced blow-dry we artfully muss-up on the school run so as not suggest an afternoon to indulge in such frivolous luxuries. Likewise I’ve found myself censoring conversation, careful not to fill it with too many Grazia-esque pop-cultural references or recent plot twists of Game of Thrones, Making a Murderer, House of Cards, Homeland (blimey, I see your point) because naturally who has the time for fluff glossies or GASP… television?

As the kids head to school and slowly grow out of that 24/7 neediness there is the perception, however misguided, being a stay-at-home mum is somehow inadequate; that it just won’t cut it. However shall I fill my days? What’s next in my professional pipeline? (What indeed!)  I’m learning to suppress that gnawing need to broadcast how busy, stressed, frazzled, or else gainfully occupied I am and accept that it’s ok to just be. It’s a constant battle, I won’t lie. ‘How was your day?’ becomes an accusation, a loaded question daring me to account for my every waking minute. It’s a self-inflicted but gender-sponsored guilt that we could and should, always be doing more.

Note that this does not affect men. Oh no. This is a female-specific affliction. Men are happy to camp on the sofa hour upon guilt-free hour watching Match of the Day catch-up without whiff of apology (exception being the Man, he’d happily stick pins in his eyes than watch footie, but that’s for another time). They embrace the art of wasting time without remorse that they’re not pursuing anything more constructive than guarding the telly and breaking-in the down-filled BoConcept sofa cushions. I think they’re onto something. I’m not sure what, but I’m willing to give it a go. If only I could find the time.


  1. Bunny
    Apr 20, 2016

    Hit it on this one !

  2. Kristin
    Apr 20, 2016

    Thank you for putting so nicely into words the constant struggle I feel as a stay at home mom!

    • January Hope
      Apr 21, 2016

      Hello there bird! Just after this I did indeed treat myself to a time-wasting pedicure. Ha!

  3. Anna Fraser
    Apr 21, 2016

    Wow. You have just perfectly encapsulated a conversation I was just this minute having – thank you!! The words ‘nail’ and ‘head’ spring to mind.
    What a brilliant read (whilst I’m about to enter the gym no-less!) … And now I must share this.
    And possibly write a follow up too, consider me officially fired-up on the matter! :)
    Anna x

    • January Hope
      Apr 21, 2016

      Happy it spoke to you! I’m humbled (not to mention impressed) you find the time to read this?! ;-)

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